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KARACHI: Bashir Mirza remembered

January 20, 2007

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KARACHI, Jan 19: A number of friends and admirers gathered last evening to remember late Bashir Mirza, popularly known as BM and shared reminiscences at the FOMMA-DHA Art Centre in Zamzama Park on Friday.

The programme was organised on the seventh death anniversary of BM by the Foundation for Museum of Modern Art (Fomma). BM, a protégé of Shakir Ali — avant garde artist and principal of National College of Arts, Lahore — was born in Amritsar in 1941 and is acknowledged as one of the master painters of Pakistan.

Imminent art critic and writer of BM’s biography, ‘The Last of the Bohemians — Bashir Mirza,’ Marjorie Husain, termed the artist as innovative and brilliant who emerged as one of the best among his generation of the 1960s.

“Bashir was outspoken, fearless, always forward thinking and he was keen to initiate a positive art ambience in Karachi, having great respect for the talents of his peers,” said Ms Husain. She said BM opened the first commercial art gallery in the country in 1965 at a time when there was no art market in Pakistan. He also published an art magazine and opened an advertising agency.

“In 1967, he brought out a portfolio of prints, Portrait of Pakistan, which was enormously popular,” she said.

Ms Husain disclosed that it was after returning from his sojourn in Europe between 1969 and 1971 that he revealed his series of paintings of, ‘The Lonely Girl’ for the first time in Karachi and made art history. “Bashir had a host of friends from all walks of life. He surprised many in 1995, when he was appointed Pakistan’s First Cultural Attache and posted to Australia. But he soon grew tired of diplomatic life and returned home in 1996 to work on his last important series showing his concerns for a threatened environment,” said Ms Husain.

BM was awarded the President’s Award for Pride of Performance in 1994, but for Niilofur Farrukh, one of his many students at the Arts Council Karachi, he was worth much more than what he was given.

“He should have been acknowledged more for his exceptional talent. There should have been a national remembrance in the form of a place or monument in his name. And because true recognition was denied him that he became traumatized,” she said.

Among others who spoke on the occasion included Jalal Uddin Ahmed, director general, Fomma, and its honorary director Nighat Mir, who also introduced the organisation.

Earlier, a documentary on the life and times of BM produced by Imran Mir was also shown to the gathering.